Richard Thornhill.
16th May 1711
Reference Numbert17110516-39
VerdictGuilty > manslaughter
SentenceMiscellaneous > branding

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error
Navigation< Previous text (trial account) | Next text (supplementary material) >

Richard Thornhill of St. Margaret's Westminster , was Indicted for the Murder of Sir Cholmley Deering , Baronet , by giving him one Mortal Wound under the Right Pap with a leaden Bullet discharg'd from a Pistol, on the 9th instant, of which he soon after died . He was likewise Indicted upon the Coroner's Inquest for the Murder aforesaid. It appeared by the Evidence, that the Prisoner and the Deceased were at the Toy at Hampton Court with about 15 other Gentlemen, on the 27th of April: That there they dined very friendly together, but towards the Evening some Words happen'd between them. Upon which the Deceased struck the Prisoner in the Face, beat him down, and when he arose, his Lip was observ'd to be swell'd, and several of his Teeth out. A Drawer hearing a Noise, came up, and found the Prisoner and the Deceased against the Wainscoat of the Room, but immediately parted by the Gentlemen. After this they sat down, and seemed to be friendly again, but look'd a little disturb'd. This Evidence further depos'd, that as they sat together, the Prisoner said, Sir Cholmley, you know where to find me. Upon which Sir Cholmley reply'd, I know not where to find you; and then the Prisoner gave him the Lie. This Witness observed the Prisoner's Lip much swell'd before the giving the Lie, but saw not the Blows given. It further appear'd, that the Deceased seemed to beg the Prisoner's Pardon at that time; but the Prisoner told him, asking of Pardon was not Satisfaction for the Loss of his Teeth. As to the Fact: It appear'd that the Prisoner and the Deceased were seen in Tuttle Fields , about 12 Yards distance from one another, with Pistols in their Hands, that they advanced very boldly toward each other till they were within 4 Yards, and then fir'd at one another. That the Deceased dropt, and the Prisoner lifting up his Hands in token of Sorrow, willingly surrender'd himself, and offer'd one a Guinea, and another a Half-Guinea to go for a Surgeon. It further appear'd, that a Surgeon was sent for, who dress'd the Deceased's Wound upon the Spot, and sent him in a Chair to a Gardiner's House. He being ask'd by several of his Friends, as well as others, the Occasion of the Dewel, reply'd to this effect: That the Prisoner was a Man of Honour, and acted like a Gentleman; and desir'd his Friends to be spoke to, least one Misfortune should follow another, and that he heartily forgave him, &c. It further appear'd, that he said he was challeng'd, but gave no Account after what manner, whether by Word of Mouth or by Writing. Neither did it appear from him by whom he was challeng'd, but when his Papers were taken out of his Pocket, a Relation of his had receiv'd one, among the rest, (but from what hand he did not know) which he put into his Pocket, and read after the Deceased was dead, and found it to be a Challenge. It is as follows.


May 8th, 1711.

I shall be able to go abroad tomorrow Morning, and desire you will give me a Meeting with your Sword and a Brace of Pistols, which I insist on. The worthy Gentleman who brings this will concert with you for the Time and Place. I think Tuttle Fields may do well. Hide Park is at this time of Year full of Company. I am Your very Humble Servant, Richard Thornhill .

This Challenge being produced in Court, a Person of Honour, one of the Prisoner intimate Friends, who had seen his Hand frequently, being ask'd whether he believ'd it to be the Prisoner's Hand, reply'd, that according to the best of his Knowledge it was not, for he us'd to write in another sort of Character; but a Foot-boy belonging to the Prisoner having the Letter shewn to him, said he did believe it to be his Master's Writing, upon which it was read.

The Prisoner in his Defence produc'd Evidence, to prove how much he was abus'd by the Deceas'd; how that from the time of his Wounds given, he hath lain in inexpressible Pain and Anguish, so that he could take only Broth and small Beer, for almost a Fortnight, for his Sustenance, was thrown into a Fever, and his Life dispair'd of, and his Jaw-bone at this time in great Danger of mortifying, and the Necessity of loosing more of his Teeth. He further prov'd, that the Morning the Dewel was fought, the Deceas'd sought after him, came at 6 in the Morning to Kensington, where he formerly lodg'd, to enquire where he then lodg'd; that he came by 7 to his Lodging in a Hackney-Coach, with a Brace of Pistols in his Hands; went in, and run up Stairs, and was let into his Dining-Room. Upon which the Servant acquainted the Prisoner, that Sir Chelmley was there, that the Prisoner then got up, and ask'd him whether he would drink a Dish of Tea, or any small Beer, the Deceas'd chose the latter; and when he had drank, and the Prisoner was dress'd, they both went down and took the same Coach the Deceas'd came in, and went directly to the Place where they fought the Dewel; and as to the written Challenge, the Boy that swore to it, swore likewise, that he never saw him write in all his Life time, and so might possibly be mistaken. The Prisoner likewise produc'd a great Number of Witnesses, Men of Quality, that had been his intimate Friends and Acquaintance from a Boy; all which gave him the Character of a very kind, affable, and courteous Gentleman, never given to Quarrelling in the least: And on the contrary, produced Evidence, who prov'd the Deceas'd was unhappy that way; he likewise produc'd Evidence, who prov'd his Serviceableness to the Deceas'd in his Election for Member of Parliament, of his expending several Hundreds of Pounds in his Service, and procuring about 800 Votes for him; and that there had been an entire Friendship between them, till this sad Accident. After the Trial was over, the Jury went out; but return'd to be inform'd, whether there was two, or four Pistols mentioned by the Witnesses; and the Witness to the Fact being call'd up, depos'd, that there was four Pistols found in the Field: Upon which they went out again; and in a little time return'd, and found him guilty of Manslaughter only .

[Branding. See summary.]

View as XML